(USA TODAY) - Snuffing out a move to allow e-cigarettes in bars, Los Angeles lawmakers on Tuesday extended the city's strict smoking restrictions to the electronic tobacco substitute.
As with conventional smokes, e-cigarettes will be banned in bars, restaurants, parks and any other location where tobacco is prohibited. But the battery-powered nicotine devices will be allowed in so-called vaping lounges, where customers can ignite up among friends.
The ordinance passed the City Council unanimously and now awaits the signature of Mayor Eric Garcetti, who supports it. The regulations will take effect 30 days later.
Councilmember Joe Buscaino tried to exempt bars, arguing that the council lacked "conclusive evidence that secondhand vapors present a health risk."
"I believe this ordinance goes too far in restricting individual liberties. We should allow bar and restaurant owners to decide whether or not to allow this in their establishment," he said.
The council voted down his amendment.
Arguing that e-cigarettes should be treated like their counterparts, Public Health Director Jonathan Fielding said there's a danger that youths would first get hooked on the flavorful, electronically delivered nicotine and then move on to the addiction of tobacco.
"We don't want to risk e-cigarettes undermining a half-century of successful tobacco control," he said.
The ordinance was backed by a powerful smoker - Council President Herb Wesson, who was 20 years old when he started the bad habit he thinks will eventually kill him.
"I will not support anything - anything - that might attract one new smoker," he said.